Packers, Eagles, Chargers, Saints make playoffs
UNDATED (AP) — The Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints will play some January football.
The Packers won their third straight division crown by scoring the last two touchdowns in a 33-28 win over the Bears in Chicago. Aaron Rodgers put Green Bay ahead by heaving a 48-yard scoring strike to Randall Cobb with just 38 seconds remaining. It was the second TD pass of the day for Rodgers, who threw for 318 yards and a pair of early interceptions after missing the previous seven games with an injured collarbone.
The Bears led 28-20 after Jay Cutler's short TD pass to Brandon Marshall five seconds into the fourth quarter. Eddie Lacy's six-yard touchdown run got the Packers within 28-27.
The Eagles captured the NFC East with a 24-22 win over Dallas, a game that wasn't decided until Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton threw an interception following the two-minute warning. NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 120 yards and grabbed one of Nick Foles' two touchdown passes. Foles hit Brent Celek (SHE'-lehk) for a 14-yard touchdown that put the Eagles ahead 17-7 with 1:19 left in the first half.
Orton had two touchdown passes and was 30 of 46 for 358 yards and two interceptions for the Cowboys, who lost a division title in the season finale for the third straight year.
The final AFC playoff berth belongs to the Chargers, who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and beat Kansas City 27-24 in overtime. Nick Novak drilled a 36-yard kick with 5:30 left in OT before the Chiefs were stopped on 4th-and-15 at the San Diego 41.
Philip Rivers' third TD pass of the afternoon got the Chargers within 24-21 before Novak hit a 22-yard field goal with 3:21 left in regulation. The Chiefs almost won it in the fourth quarter, which would have put the Steelers into the playoffs. But Ryan Succop (SUK'-up) was wide right on a potential game-winning, 41-yard field goal try with 4 seconds left in regulation.
San Diego's comeback ended Pittsburgh's improbable charge toward a playoff berth. Le'Veon (LEH'-vee-ahn) Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers beat Cleveland 20-7 to keep their postseason hopes alive at 8-8. Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH'-lis-bur-gur) was intercepted twice while throwing for 179 yards and a TD.
The Steelers needed to beat the Browns and hope Baltimore, Miami and San Diego lost. That scenario was looking good until the Chargers rallied to win.
New Orleans is back in the NFC playoffs after dismantling Tampa Bay 42-14. Drew Brees (breez) threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns, including a 76-yard scoring pass to Kenny Stills. Brees also ran nine yards for a TD after eclipsing the 5,000-yard mark in passing yards for an unprecedented fourth time. The 11-5 Saints also end up 8-0 at the Superdome while dropping the Buccaneers to 4-12.
In other Week 17 results:
— Carolina clinched the NFC South title by nipping Atlanta 21-20. Cam Newton tossed a pair of TD passes and Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks as the Panthers improved to 12-4 to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times.
— AFC North champion Cincinnati had the distinction of eliminating last season's Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, 34-17. Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. The Bengals head into the postseason with an 11-5 record while the Ravens finished 8-8, losing their last two.
— Denver has the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs after Peyton Manning threw for four more touchdowns while setting a single-season record for passing yards in a 34-14 rout of Oakland. Manning had 5,477 passing yards for the season before sitting out the second half, breaking Drew Brees' record by one yard. He finished with 55 TD passes, also a new NFL record.
— Seattle claimed the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs by defeating St. Louis 27-9. Malcom Smith put the Seahawks ahead to stay with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Marshawn Lynch ran for a touchdown and Russell Wilson threw for another to help Seattle finish 13-3.
— New England wrapped up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs by downing Buffalo 34-30. The Patriots rolled up 267 rushing yards while Tom Brady threw for just 122 yards and one touchdown. LeGarrette Blount ran for 189 yards on 24 carries, including touchdowns of 36 and 35 yards. The Pats finished 12-4, while the Bills ended up 6-10 and last in the AFC East.
— The 49ers beat Arizona 23-20 on Phil Dawson's 40-yard field goal as time expired, just 29 seconds after Jay Feely's 43-yard kick tied the game. The Cardinals fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter before Carson Palmer threw scoring passes to Jake Ballard and Andre Roberts. Palmer finished with 407 passing yards, while Colin Kaepernick had 310 yards through the air for San Francisco. Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for short TDs as the 49ers finished 12-4. Arizona missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record, better than at least two postseason teams. Dallas would also make the playoffs with a worse record than Arizona's if the Cowboys beat the Eagles tonight.
— Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards as the New York Jets beat Miami 20-7. Dee Miliner had two interceptions for the 8-8 Jets, who earned their third straight win before announcing head coach Rex Ryan would be back next season.
— Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri (vihn-uh-TEHR'-ee) joined the 2,000-point club as the Indianapolis Colts routed Jacksonville 30-10. The AFC South champs have now won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season. Luck was 26 of 37 and became the first player in league history to top 8,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons
— The Minnesota Vikings beat the Detroit Lions 14-13 in the final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons. The building will be torn down next month to make room for a new domed stadium on the same site. Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns. The Vikes finished 5-10-1 and Lions wound up 5-9.
— Mike Munchak may have earned some more bargaining points to keep his job as Tennessee coach. The Titans handed the Houston Texans their 14th straight loss, 16-10. Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, who finished 7-9. Houston wound up 2-14.
— In the last game at the Meadowlands before the Super Bowl, the New York Giants beat listless Washington 20-7 in the rain at MetLife Stadium. Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another TD in what could be Mike Shanahan's final game as Redskins coach.
Thunder hammer Rockets to take over NBA lead
UNDATED (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are the first NBA team to 25 wins this season after a lopsided game against the Houston Rockets.
Kevin Durant had 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists as the Thunder destroyed the Rockets 117-86. Jeremy Lamb added a career-high 22 points and five assists to help Oklahoma City improve to 2-0 since Russell Westbrook underwent knee surgery last week.
The Thunder have won 12 of 13 and 20 of 22 to improve to an NBA-best 25-5.
Also in the NBA:
— Manu Ginobili (MAN'-oo jih-NOH'-blee) scored 28 points, Tony Parker added 22 and Tim Duncan had 17 and 13 rebounds to lead San Antonio's 112-104 victory over the Sacramento. The trio scored San Antonio's final 21 points in a 23-8 run to close the game.
— Stephen (STEF'-ehn) Curry scored 29 points and made a clutch jumper with 13.5 seconds left to push Golden State past Cleveland, 108-104. David Lee had 19 points in the Warriors' fifth consecutive victory.
— Arron Afflalo (af-LAH'-loh) overcame an ankle injury to score 21 points on 7 of 10 shooting in Orlando's 109-102 victory against Atlanta. Nikola Vucevic (voo-SEH'-vihch) added 16 points and 15 rebounds to the win.
— Philadelphia ended a 13-game road losing streak as Thaddeus Young scored seven of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of the 76ers' 111-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Evan Turner finished with 22 points, and Spencer Hawes added 19 points and eight rebounds to the Sixers' second victory in 11 games overall.
Sharks end Ducks' struck...Pens stay hot, pad lead
UNDATED (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks' team-record winning streak has been stopped at 10 games. San Jose ended it by taking the first game of back-to-back meetings with Anaheim, beating the Ducks 3-1.
Brent Burns scored just 77 seconds into the game before setting up Logan Couture (koo-TOOR') later in the first period. Bracken Kearns scored his first NHL goal, and Antti Nieme (AN'-tee nee-EH'-mee) stopped 29 shots in the Sharks' sixth victory in eight games.
In other NHL action:
— Chris Neal recorded his fourth NHL hat trick and collected a career-high five points as Pittsburgh downed Columbus 5-3. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz (KOO'-nihts) each had a goal and two assists to help the Penguins win for the 14th time in their last 16 games and extend their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points over Boston.
— St. Louis beat Dallas 3-2 on Kevin Shattenkirk's power-play goal at 4:49 of overtime. Jaden Schwartz stretched his goal streak to five games and Brian Ellott stopped 28 shots as the Blues improved to 12-0-1 against Central Division opponents.
Scott Clemmensen improved to 8-1 lifetime versus the Canadiens by stopping 21 shots in Florida's 4-1 triumph against Montreal. Brian Campbell, Aleksander Barkov, Dmitry Kulikov and Sean Bergenheim did the scoring as the Panthers ended a three-game losing streak and beat the Canadiens for the second time this month.
— Ryan Miller turned back 49 shots before Steve Ott provided the lone shootout goal in Buffalo's 2-1 win over Washington. Miller also stymied the Capitals' six shootout attempts and didn't allow a goal until Troy Brouwer (BROW'-ur) beat him 5 1/2 minutes into the third period.
— Henrik Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello led the New York Rangers' 4-3 win at Tampa Bay. Zuccarello had a goal and two assists to support Lundqvist, who made 37 saves in his first start in four games.
— The New York Islanders fell behind 3-0 before Kyle Okposo (oh-POH'-soh) scored twice, including the game-winner in the Isles' 5-4 triumph at Minnesota. Thomas Hickey had a goal and two assists in the Islanders' third straight road victory.
— Blake Wheeler scored at 4:58 of overtime to complete Winnipeg's 2-1 win at Colorado. Al Montoya stopped 32 shots and Andrew Ladd also scored as the Jets handed the AValanche their fourth consecutive loss.
— Phil Kessel (KES'-ul) scored twice and Jonathan Bernier (BURN'-yay) stopped 41 shots in Toronto's 5-2 verdict over Carolina. Tyler Bozak set up three goals in his first game since missing 12 straight with a lower back injury.
— Eddie Lack earned an 18-save shutout in Vancouver's 2-0 win at Calgary. Jannik Hansen and Mike Santorelli did the scoring in the Canucks' 10th victory in 12 games.
US routs Germany
Defending champion United States wraps up a spot in the playoff round in the world junior hockey tournament with an 8-0 win over Germany, Notre Dame's Vince Hinostroza scored twice and added two assists.
Shockers host Davidson
UNDATED (AP) — Ranked teams were 3-for-3 in Sunday's men's basketball schedule.
Cleanthony Early had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 10 Wichita State beat Davidson 81-70 and extend the Shockers' longest season-opening winning streak. Ron Baker added 15 points for the 13-0 Shockers.
No. 12 Oregon was a 97-76 winner over Morgan State as Joseph Young scored 24 points and Richard Amardi had a season-high 16 points in his first start of the season. The 12-0 Ducks are off to their best start since going 13-0 in 2006-07.
Florida has a 22-game home winning streak after Pat Young scored 15 points to lead the 13th-ranked Gators to an easy 76-34 win against Savannah State. The Gators put together runs of 12-0 and 14-0 while holding the Tigers to just 11 points in the first half.
Former F-1 champ still critical, in coma
GRENOBLE, France (AP) — Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher remains in a medically-induced coma following a skiing accident Sunday, and doctors in France say they don't know what the outcome will be following brain surgery.
The retired German driver was skiing with his son in a French Alpine resort when he fell and hit his head on a rock. He was wearing a helmet.